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'Remembering': Victims, Survivors and Commemoration
The Human Face of Conflict: Photographs of Those Killed
by Dr Martin Melaugh (2009)

 

Introduction

Statistics reflect the scale of the conflict, and descriptions of individual killings provide some indication of the suffering involved. However, text-based information on its own lacks a human face. In an effort to to compliment the existing information this section contains a selection of photographs of those killed during the Northern Ireland conflict.

The decision to include a selection of photographs of those killed was not taken lightly. There are a number of obvious sensitivies in dealing with such material. Although all of the photographs have been in the public domain for a long time, in many instances for decades, it was nevertheless important to be sensitive to the feelings of the family, relatives and friends of the deceased. At this stage, given the passage of time, it would be impossible for anyone to speak to all family members in advance about the use of such photographs. In many cases the nearest family members would themselves be deceased and other living relatives would be extremely difficult to track down. A few people known to the research team, or who contacted CAIN in relation to a particular death, were asked their opinion of the matter and also their permission to use a photograph. All those asked were happy with the proposal and granted permission for an existing, or different, photograph to be used. In some cases groups representing families gave permission for photographs to be used, and one organisation provided a set of photographs.

Given what has just been said it is hoped that the families, relatives and friends who view the photographs in this section will appreciate the rationale for including the photographs and will not object to the use of the images. If however the closest living relative of any of the deceased, objects to the use of an image then the photograph will be removed.

Photographs have been collected from a wide range of sources and are presented alongside basic textual information about each individual killed. The material is presented on static Web pages chronologically by year and alphabetically by surname. There is also a search facility. The information also contains links to information on physical monuments / memorials which commemorate the particular person.

 

Background

During the conflict one aspect of the daily news reporting was the use of photographs of those who had been killed in print media reports and also, in the middle and later stages, in broadcast news bulletins. Not everyone killed had a photograph in the media but for the majority of deaths this was the case. Often the photograph did not appear on the day of the killing, or in the next day's media reports, but may have been used when the funeral took place and was reported. The broadcast media underwent some important changes in the style of its reporting during the conflict. For example during the early years of the conflict news broadcasts often consisted of little more than a presenter reading the main items of the news with little by way of supporting photographs, or film, or reports from the scene.

What was apparent from the images that were used, was the varied quality of the photographs. This obviously depended on the nature of the camera that had been used, the skill of the amateur photographer, and the circumstances in which the photograph was taken. At the beginning of the conflict most of the photographs were black and white and by the end of the conflict all were in colour. Most depict the deceased person engaged in normal social engagements, family gatherings, weddings, parties, etc. While harder to gauge, it is also clear that in some cases there was a substantial gap between the date on which the photograph was taken and the date of death of the individual concerned. This may have been because the photograph was the only one to hand when it was requested, or the person supplying the image may have felt it was the best quality image available.

In a few instances family members later regretted the release of a particular photograph and whenever possible have provided a second image. Although once an image was released to the media it often became almost impossible to stop its repeat use. In many cases an image may have been used on only one occasion, namely the immediate aftermath of the killing. The death of the person concerned may have been soon superceded by other deaths and the image never again appeared in public. In some cases the deaths became 'high profile' ones and the images appeared regularly in the media.

Since October 1999 the CAIN site has included a section devoted to the 'Index of Deaths' compiled by Malcolm Sutton. Given the remit of the CAIN site it was felt important to include the details and basic circumstances of all the deaths attributed to the conflict in, and about, Northern Ireland. This information was textual in nature. The AHRC funding of the new victims section on CAIN allowed an opportunity to undertake the collection of photographs of those killed. This is something which was felt would represent an important addition to the basic text.

In the original research proposal it was envisaged that 800 photographs would be collected but during the project it proved possible to collect 1,425 images. This represents 40.4 per cent of all those listed in Sutton's Index of Deaths. Obviously there are many more photographs that could be collected however it is worth noting that it probably would not be possible at this stage to obtain a photograph for every person killed as a result of the conflict.

 

Copyright

One of the early issues that arose in planning to collect photographs of those killed was the question of the copyright status of the images. In the case of civilians, and also members of paramilitary groups, the photographs of the deceased were informal photographs which had obviously been taken by family members and friends. In the case of RUC officers the photographs were 'official' ones which had presumably been taken by a photographer employed by the organisation. Photographs of British soldiers appeared to be a mixture of official and unofficial images.

The most common scenario following a killing of a civilian or member of a paramilitary organisation, was that a member of the media would visit the family home and ask for a photograph of the deceased for use in media reports. In most cases a photograph - one that was readily to hand - would be given to the media representative who would then arrange for it to be passed on to other organisations. These photographs were known locally as 'collect' photographs. As far as the author can determine, no payment was made for the photograph and no copyright form signed when the image was handed over. This being the case the copyright of the photograph remains with the original (usually unknown) photographer. In the case of RUC and British Army photographs the copyright remained with the organisation for whom the photographer was employed.

The photographs that appeared in the media would often then be passed to, or actively collected by, a photographic agency which would store the images and provide them at future dates when requested by media organisations.

On the question of copyright the decision to collect and display the photographs on this Web site was based on the belief that although the photographs had first been made public by various media organisations, the copyright of the images did not rest with them but with the original photographer. So it was decided not to approach any media organisations or agencies directly, but to collect a cross-section of the the photographs and make these available. This was done on the understanding that individual photographs would be removed from the CAIN site if any copyright holder, or nearest relative, objected to their use.

 

Source of the photographs

The decision was take to collect the photographs from the most convenient source available. The photographs were obtained from a number of sources. In print format from newspapers, magazines, and books. In digital format from Web sites and PDF documents. In video format from recordings of television programmes. Some images were also obtained from photographs that appear on a few of the physical memorials in public spaces.

The newspapers were mainly local publications, the Web sites were usually ones that dealt with the issue of victims, and the television programmes were originally broadcast by BBC, ITV and RTE.

A few individuals and organisations provided some small collections of images they held and / or provided copyright permission for these images to be used. The CAIN project is grateful to those who were able to assist in this manner.

 

Preparation of the photographs

Any photographs that were available in printed format were digitised by scanning at a high resolution. Any images located on Web sites were saved at the size and resolution of the original (Web) image; usually 72dpi. In the case of video recordings of television programmes a Macintosh computer was used with video software to obtain a copy of any photographs that were displayed in the news programmes. The videos used are part of a private collection which covered the period from 1981 to 2001. This coverage however was not comprehensive.

Once digitised all the images were stored at largest size and highest resolution available and in the original format (JPEG, TIFF, etc). Inevitable these versions of the photographs consisted of differing physical sizes and resolution, and also differing formats (portrait and landscape). All these photographs were placed in a single folder - the 'original versions' folder. Each image was named in a standard format with surname, forename and date of death (date of death recorded in 'ddmmyy' format). The date of death was added to the filenames because of the number of instances where those killed had the same surname and same forename (in a few cases there were three people with matching names). This naming procedure resulted in filenames in the following form: 'Surname_Forename_ddmmyy.Filetype'.

When gathering images from a number of sources inevitably a number of duplicate images were collected. Some of these duplicate files were of the same photograph, which may or may not have been of differing resolution, physical size, or cropped. Other duplicate files were from different photographs of the same person. An initial assessment was made of the duplicate images and the 'best' photograph was held and any others moved to a duplicates folder.

Each photograph was then assessed and digitally corrected if required (in Photoshop levels and contrast were set, some minor adjustments to colour made, and in the case of some photographs an adjustment was made to 'curves' to improve mid tones.). Some black and white photographs contained colour information in the digital version and had to have the 'mode' set to grayscale. A small number of photographs were damaged (creases, dust marks, etc.) and it was decided to do some minor touch-up work in these few instances. Each image was rotated if required, and cropped and resized to a standard thumbnail size of 100 pixels by 85 pixels ('thumbnail' size) in portrait format and set to 72 dpi resolution.

A decision was made at the beginning to concentrate on the face of the person killed. So the images were cropped tight to the face. This was not always possible and in a few cases the size of the original image was so small that such a crop would not have been feasible. Cropping to the face resulted in: removing distracting details; removed other people; concentrated the viewers attention on the face of the deceased person; and it also made it easier to achieve a standard size for the images. These images were stored as JPEGs in a separate 'Web sized' folder. These are the photographs that appear in the accompanying pages.

 

Future Development

At the time of the launch of this section (June 2009) the decision was taken to only make the the thumbnail images available. This decision was taken in part to await the response to the collection of photographs. Smaller collections have appeared in printed format in the past, the best known being the poster produced to commemorate the 300 RUC officers killed in the conflict. However this was the first occasion when such a large collection of photographs was made available in a single place. While, as mentioned above, an attempt was made obtain the opinions of some of the close relatives of those killed, the reaction of relatives following the launch will have an influence on the nature and extent of additional work on this section. One option, for example, would be to turn the thumbnail images into links to the larger version of the photograph thus people would see the original image before it was cropped and resized.

As there are 'only' 1,434 images in this collection at present, it means that there are 2,092 people listed in Sutton's Index without a photograph. It would be possible, depending on other commitments, to do another trawl for photographs. This would probably involved a concerted effort at a newspaper library. A decision on all these options will be made at some point in the future.

 

Notice on use

At the bottom of each page displaying the photographs is a notice with basic information about the collection of the images, information on the copyright holders, a note on sources, an offer to remove images if requested, and an appeal for additional images.

Note on the photographs:
Most of the photographs in this section were provided by family members, relatives or friends of the person killed, to the local media at the time of death. In most cases the photographs were taken by a member of the family, a relative or a friend. At the time the photographs were provided to the local media, the name of the photographer was not recorded. No payment was made for the photograph. In some cases the original image was never returned.
Copyright of the photographs
Copyright © of the photographs remains with the (unknown) original photographer. If anyone believes they own the copyright of any of the photographs in this section, and objects to its reproduction on this Web site, they should contact the CAIN Director.
Sources:
Text is taken with permission from Malcolm Sutton's 'Index of Deaths'.
The photographs were obtained from various sources including: newspapers, magazines, books, other publications, video, memorials, Web sites, etc.
Removal of photographs:
If the nearest relative of any of those killed, objects to the use of a particular photograph then the image will be removed from this site. If the nearest relative would prefer a different photograph to be used this can be arranged.
Appeal for additional photographs:
If anyone has a photograph, or a series of photographs, of any of those killed during the conflict and would be willing to donate a (digital) copy to the Archive, please contact the CAIN Director. Please do not sent original photographs by post.

 

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